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George Jones

The Hits – 2011 (Bandit)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

George Jones tends to rely on his past these days, so it's not surprising that "The Hits" is his new CD. The 24-song set does include a few previously unreleased songs, but that may not be enough to persuade all but the diehards to buy this.

Jones recorded Eddy Raven's I Should Have Called and Al Anderson-Steven Bruton's I Ain't Ever Slowing Down about five years ago with Keith Stegall producing, and both appear here for the first time. The former is a bit poppy, but Jones' voice carries the song. The latter is upbeat, lively country with lots of fiddle and finds Jones in good vocal form.

The title of this CD is on the misleading side. Not all 22 old songs on the 2-CD set were hits. Tall Tall Trees was recorded in 1958 for his "Long Live King George" CD and never released as a single (of course, it was a hit for Alan Jackson in 1995). If Finally Friday was not even released as a single (it appears on 1992's "Walls Can Fall," which did include I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair, a song on the CD), it also never charted. Ditto for Hell Stays Open (All Night Long) from 1990's "You Oughta Be Here With Me."

It's also hard to figure how the album was constructed. While most of the songs were from the 1970s, the set also includes The Window Up Above from 1960, a few songs from the '80s including Tennessee Whiskey and the '90s. Not everything was a number one hit either. This is not intended to be any sort of definitive collection since the release includes the most basic of information about the material and no context whatsoever. In effect, it comes off as a chance to live off the old songs repackaged ever so slightly.

On the positive side, hearing a few new songs from Jones is great, but an album's worth would have been far far better instead of a mishmash collection. Jones should take heed from I Ain't Ever Slowing Down.